One of those writing questions…

Let’s talk about writing. A question that I have often heard asked is –

Do you have to have been to a place in order to write about it?

There are a couple caveats, but my short answer is  – Yes.

Sure, there are times when you can use your experience in a similar environment / culture to fill in the gaps in a story – use this as a surrogate measure. I can’t argue with that…much. However, it is far more convincing if you have been to the places you want to write about If you want to write about Europe, you should go their first. If you want to write about the Middle-east, it’s the same deal.  I say this because you can’t really capture a place without using all of your senses. It’s fine to see pictures and movies of places, but unless you’ve been there, listened, watched people, smelled the air, then your descriptions will be flat. And the thing about places like Europe, is that so many people have been there, that they will pick up the fact that you probably haven’t.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use some experience to create fictional towns and settings – this is fine. Use your imagination to adapt your own experiences to build your own world. That way, nobody can say it isn’t so. Of course another method is to change the time – go backwards or forwards in time. That also allows you use your imagination to the full. But please don’t compromise the integrity of your story by writing 2-dimensional descriptions of places you haven’t been. My own stories are based heavily on places I have been – I’m not comfortable doing it any other way.

I’m sure people will disagree with me, but just remember, it is the story that counts most. Setting it in an exotic place will only detract from your characters and plot if you do it badly. Far better to place the story locally, give it the full benefit of your experience, and see how that will attract far more people than any exotic location. Journeys don’t have to involve much physical travel.

 

Anyhow, that’s me done for now.

Enjoy your writing.

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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